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February 19, 2009

Crisis As a Challenge - Passing from Words to Deeds

By TMCnet Special Guest
S. Taldon, IDS � Information Technology Solutions Manager, Procter & Gamble
Efficiency and profit are tightly connected in business. World economical crisis laid aside companies that didn't manage to modernize production. Low efficiency made production cost price higher than customers are ready to pay.

A quick way to reverse the situation is to pass from insight to deeds, and start using knowledge about business, data domain, products, services and clients in business processes of the company.

Starting from 1995, knowledge management became a separate branch of science with university courses, professional and academic publications all on this topic. However experience shows that it is better use your own managers conversant with all company business aspects, than to hire an external consultant. We just need to know how to switch them to this field of activity, because there is no time for additional education.

There is good news indeed. Core IT products concentrate all the necessary knowledge and methodology nowadays. A good example [1] is Knowledgebase Manager Pro – enterprise software, which automates knowledge management process on each level [2].

The fifth version of this product, which was released on Christmas Day 2008, opens the product line of high-tech solutions from the Web-site-scripts Company.
 
Knowledge management as a modernization basis
Knowledge management yields the following results [3] [4]:
* Making available increased knowledge content in the development and provision of products and services;
* Achieving shorter new product development cycles;
* Facilitating and managing innovation and organizational learning;
* Using the expertise of people across the whole organization;
* Increasing network connectivity between internal and external individuals;
* Managing business environments and allowing employees to obtain relevant insights and ideas appropriate to their work;
* Solving intractable or wicked problems;
* Managing intellectual capital and intellectual assets in the workforce (such as the expertise and know-how possessed by key individuals). 
The increase of business efficiency is a consequence of each listed point above. One more question though – how to start?
 
 Effective interaction with present and prospective customers
Interaction with customers is a key element of business success. The are important in all stages necessary for gaining profits: selling, after-sale service, and customer retention – all of which are built on information exchange.

Sales Managers, Support Managers, and Client Managers all spend time on the satisfaction of customers' needs. It is possible to save right here, keeping or even increasing efficiency of interaction with customers at the same time. According to Ernst & Young consulting agency research, Knowledge Management Software usage enables up to 30 percent savings of a company's total budget!

The essence is simple. Most customer questions repeat themselves, but your staff wastes time answering the same questions again and again. If you do not have FAQ, Help Desk or Troubleshooter yet, it is the right time to create it! Structured information published on the Internet will prepare customer for conversations with managers and make interaction more efficient.

With the help of Knowledge Management Software you can create and publish FAQ in a minute! New articles and changes to existing ones will be published automatically and you do not need a webmaster or an html-coder.

Enterprise-level applications support multiple users, so each manager can be assigned to administrate his area of knowledge and Knowledge Management Software will generate reports for the head of the department, allowing work monitoring and coordination. 
 
Business relies on knowledge
Usage of gathered knowledge and experience makes it possible to achieve outstanding results. Here are several examples:
* New employees need less time for orientation.
Put organization documents, conceptions, documented processes, projects to the knowledge base. Train staff to enrich and widen it continuously and results will be inevitable.
* Employees and departments stop doing a monkey job, re-inventing the wheel.
Distribute rights on information usage and adding. Do not lose a single nugget of information!
*All work difficulties must be overcome only once.

Make it a rule: Staff must have:

a) necessary knowledge
b) in desired amount
c) at the right place
d) at the right time
e) of required quality.
One of the modern Knowledge Management Software attributes is access to the knowledge base from any Internet-terminal – cell phone, PDA, netbook, home PC, etc. If your company has several offices, and your employees are in need of full mobility, it is time to think about purchase of enterprise software that matches your needs.
 
 Ideas need to be written down

You should create an "Ideas" section in your knowledge base. Let your employees write down any ideas about the company and current activity there: rationalization, innovations, and current questions. It won't take much time to see how easily the decision-making process can be improved.
At the beginning of this article I mentioned the software we use in our department. My choice relied on comparison characteristics of different products in this area [1] and on the results of my own testing. Each product has demo versions that you can try to find out how it can be implemented in your business.


References:
1 "Comparison of knowledge management software" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_knowledge_management_software
2 "Knowledgebase Manager Pro Overview" http://www.web-site-scripts.com/knowledge-management/
3 "A Service-Oriented Knowledge Management Framework over Heterogeneous Sources" http://eceb.gmu.edu/pubs/Kerschberg_NASA_IST.ppt
4 "Knowledge Management" http://tecom.cox.smu.edu/abasu/itom6032/kmlect.pdf
 

TMCnet publishes expert commentary on various telecommunications, IT, call center, CRM and other technology-related topics. Are you an expert in one of these fields, and interested in having your perspective published on a site that gets several million unique visitors each month? Get in touch.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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